Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
During an online session convened by the Kenya-based Daughters of St. Paul (FSP) congregation on the launch of New Directory for Catechesis, Bishop Emeritus Rodrigo Mejía has emphasized on catechesis as a collective work of evangelization that should not be left for individuals.
“Catechesis is communion, it is not an individual action but the work of evangelization entrusted to the whole community both universally and locally,” Bishop Emeritus Rodrigo Mejía Saldarriaga of Ethiopia’s Soddo Vicariate said while addressing online participants on Saturday, December 19.
“Through baptism, all believers who are children of God are called to participate in this mission of transmission of faith,” Bishop Mejía the guest speaker during the launch of the new catechesis book said adding that “There are no jobless Christians in the Church since we are all disciples of Christ mandated to proclaim the good news to the whole world.”
In his address, the Prelate who is a member of The Society of Jesus (SJ) highlighted that catechesis leads to spiritual maturity.
“Catechesis is an essential part of the whole process of evangelization. It includes the foundation of our faith, and spiritual renewal, which is a process of spiritual maturity that last the whole life, not just the period of infancy and adolescence for Christian initiation,” Bishop Mejía who had served as Provincial Superior of the Eastern Province of the SJ noted.
The Bishop noted further that Catechesis is not just a human teaching addressed to reason as “In Catechesis the Holy Spirit remains the first and principal evangelizer, hence Catechesis should be oriented towards the act of faith.”
The New Directory for Catechesis providing guidelines to strengthen the mission of the Church on the connection between evangelization and catechesis, was approved by Pope Francis on Monday, March 23, and released in July by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
According to Bishop Mejía who is currently the director of Jesuits Tertianship which is final formal period of formation in the congregation of the SJ towards preparations for Final vows, the New Directory also highlights the process of Catechesis which is on the formation of Catechists.
“Formation of Catechists has to be integral; intellectual and spiritual. Hence the formation is not only academic but also spiritual so Catechists can become witness to the light,” Bishop Emeritus said.
On his part speaking during the same event, Fr. Lucas Ong’esa Manwa the Deputy General Secretary of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) emphasized on renewal on how to carry out evangelization.
He disclosed that the clergy and Religious have relaxed in carrying out catechetical role in the church yet they should fully participate in this ministry.
“Priests are mandated to support the bishops in their apostolic ministry to spread the Gospel,” Fr. Ong’esa said and disclosed, “but there is laxity for us priests and we have become lukewarm to carry out the work of evangelization.”
“We need to move to schools; we need to move to families which is the core of the Church where parents are expected to take their responsibility and hence instruct parents on their role to the children,” he said.
Fr. Ong’esa urged the leadership of Catholic Institution to involve agents of Catechesis the Catholic organizations to help renew the Catholic faith.
“I want to ask all our Catholic institutions especially the administration to invite on board the agents of Catechesis so that they are able to walk with them in renewing the faith of the Church and fulfilling the mandate of our catechetical role,” he emphasized adding that “together all other agents are able to develop programs of Catechesis in schools and identify the right person to be able to give instructions.”
Speaking to the theme “Catechesis today: Historical-pastoral perspective in times of Covid-19, Fr. Ong’esa narrated that the pandemic has caused challenges for worship hence “the mother Church which lives in the reality of renewal brings us in relationship to the new evangelization in the Church and in the world.”
The online event was moderated by Sr. Beatrice Njau (FSP) and organized by Sr. Olga Massango (FSP) who disclosed that the first and fundamental apostolic work of the Daughters of St. Paul is Catechetical apostolate.
She explained further in relation to the apostolate of the FSP, “While producing and promoting Catechetical books, songs and movies centered on the person of Christ, we are attentive to the signs of time by grasping the insights and the dynamics of the Church.”